Our German Bohemian Legacy
Robert J. Paulson
Chronicle of Bernstein
On January 9, 1939, Bernstein was reported to be a village with 17 houses and 85 inhabitants. The village was located behind the southern cliff-face of the Eisenberg [Iron Mountain] at an altitude of 680 meters above sea level. It was 1 1/2 kilometers from Waier and 1 kilometer from the Bavarian frontier. Berstein was almost completely surrounded by forest and the "Tiergarten" [zoo or animal preserve] with its eastern side being the only place where there were rows of cultivated fields. In any case, the village was named for a rock formation of some sort where a bear had met its death. On the older maps of the area one often finds "Bärnstein."
The Dominion reports [manorial journals] indicate that the nobleman, Leopold Konstantin von Wiedersperg established a "Hof" [a group of buildings surrounding a courtyard] in Berstein in 1670. But the first settlement in the place may have occurred earlier because the vital records contain mention of the funeral of "die alte Bernsteinerin" [the elderly woman from Bernstein] in Bernstein. It can be assumed that there had already been two cottages there for a long time. In 1670 the new "Hof" is referred to as the "Hof zum Bernstein," in 1672 there is reference to a "Meierhof," in 1683 Hans Lang is already a shepherd there, and in 1684 Hans Günther is the "Krawarsch" in Bernstein. According to the dominion's economic report, in 1775 there was a riverfront building [Flusshütte - factory on a river] in which potash was produced. It was next to the forest ranger's house. When it closed down is unknown. There is still a house today that bears the name "Flussfranz."
By 1735 farmers named Neudecker and Ubl were already known to be living in Bernstein. In 1785 Bernstein had 9 houses and 76 inhabitants. The Meierhof may have already been given up by this time and its property and fields leased to local people.
With the formation of political communities in 1848, Bernstein was joined to Waier (prior to then Bernstein had its own "Richter" -- local magistrate), but the combined community was then referred to as if Bernstein and Waier are equal -- "Bernstein with Waier."
The Bernstein forest district included all of the Eisenberg from Schwarzach to the Maurer brook and from the Bavarian frontier as far as Radbusa.
On July 23, 1859, a dreadful storm raged, doing enormous damage in the forest. In 1890 there were 17 houses and139 residents, in 1900 there were 114 residents and in 1910 there were 132. Bernstein's school was in Waier after 1787 and only very few went to any school prior to that time. The parish for Bernstein was in Muttersdort in 1786 and later on in Waier but the preferred church was in Stadlern.
During the First World War, 30 men enlisted and 9 gave their lives. During the Second World War nine men died: Josef Gröbner, Christof Helget, Karl Pretzl, Johann Spörl, Josef Spörl, Anton Gitter, Franz Helget, Josef Helget and Wenzel Helget.